Is there a pattern to your writing day?

The 3rd Woman

The 3rd Woman

I probably do the reverse of what you're meant to do. They say you should get up early, writing at dawn, only dealing with email etc when you're done. But I usually feel the need to get all my email and admin out of the way at the start of the day, then knuckle down - often turning off the broadband to force myself to stay focused. And I tend not to stop for the day until I have achieved that day's target word-count - even if it means going on till very late into the evening.

What does your writing space look like?

A room at the top of the house, just near enough that I can hear the kids when they get home from school - and far enough away that, when I close the door, I can't hear them at all.

How do you juggle your life as a journalist and that of a novelist. Do they cross over?

The two actually complement each other really well. The Third 3rd Woman is the story of a journalist called Maddy, charting her way through terrain that is thick and perilous with politics, and luckily these are areas I know first hand, through my work as a newspaper writer and editor. The people I meet, the conversations I have, constantly set off ideas and thoughts that can, eventually, surface in my fiction. I write thrillers that aim to be a cracking read, but also to shed some light on the world we live in - and my journalistic work is all about probing that world and getting to know it better.

How much of your own experience as a journalist goes into your writing?

Lots. Not just the ideas and arguments I see played out, but the actual life of a reporter, the techniques you deploy in order to get people to talk to you and trust you - all of that I find myself drawing on. In this novel, there are a few scenes set in a newsroom - and those certainly benefited from my personal experience. And this book is rooted in fairly substantial research - something I learned to do as a journalist.

Your protagonists are often female and you have said before you prefer writing in a female voice. Will Maddy feature in other novels?

I think she will. I'm not sure when, but I've become very attached to her. I find myself imagining what she would say about a particular situation, hearing her voice, thinking how she would think. I find her a completely compelling person

Who would play Maddy on the big screen?

Jessica Chastain could do it.